Storycraft with Kevin Kling, MPR, April 25, 2012, 7 p.m.

Screen shot 2012-04-11 at 7.52.57 PMUBS Forum
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Storytelling showcase

Minnesota Public Radio presents Storycraft with Kevin Kling, an evening of master Twin Cities’ storytellers bringing innovation to live storytelling and giving new form to a story told. Storycraft is part of Kevin Kling’s original works residency with Minnesota Public Radio. Kling has been leading story telling workshops in Duluth and St. Paul with Minnesota’s best live storytellers. This showcase is the fruit of months of workshop labor. The best indentified storytellers in the region have gathered for this experiment in defining advances in the craft of storytelling. This specific community has become MPR content contributors with on-air and on-line commentaries and stories featured on All Things Considered.

Wednesday April 25th in the UBS Forum engage with stories, poems, music and films by Joseph Scrimshaw, Loren Niemi, Courtney Maclean, Allegra Lingo, Gary Dop and Barbara Wiener and other members of the Storycraft workshops. Our storytellers will be asking the question “what do we trust”, along with original stories performed by Kevin Kling.

Tickets for this literary evening will be limited to 130 and will be on sale 4/10 at the MPR Box Office for $15, and discounted to $12 for MPR Members. The Box Office is open Tuesday-Friday 12pm-5pm and tickets may be purchased over the phone 651-290-1200.

Kevin Kling is a well-known playwright and storyteller, and his commentaries can be heard on NPR’s All Things Considered. His plays and adaptations have been performed around the world. Kling’s original works residency with MPR will continue with a Thanksgiving weekend show at The Fitzgerald Theater this Thanksgiving weekend. He lives in Minneapolis.
The UBS Forum is located at the Minnesota Public Radio Headquarters
480 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MN 55101

Please direct your questions to Sr. Producer Jeff Kamin, x1371

“Big Little Brother”, Walker Art Center, Free First Saturday, April 7, 2012

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Performance: Big Little Brother with Kevin Kling and Chris Monroe

Walker Cinema
Saturday, April 7
Two Shows!  11 a.m. & 1 p.m.
1750 Hennepin Avenue

Free First Saturday

Join in an exciting day of art-making, films, performances, and tours that plays with the memories of young and old.  Gallery admission is free for everyone on the first Saturday of each month from 10 am to 5 pm, with a variety of family activities scheduled from 10 am to 3 pm.

In this fun story-telling event, celebrated playwright and performer Kevin Kling narrates his recent children’s book Big Little Brother, co-authored and illustrated by painter and cartoonist Chris Monroe. This charming story traces a familiar arc from sibling rivalry to brotherly love.

Being an older brother has its benefits, of that there’s little doubt. But how would you feel if your little brother grew to be bigger than you? And what if he insisted on touching all your things and following you everywhere you went? It’s enough to frustrate the most even-keeled of kids. Then an encounter at the playground teaches him that a pesky younger sibling can actually be a pal.

Click for More Info!

Kevin Kling + Krista Tippet, “On Being” Interview, March 18, 2012

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Click for Link!

Video of Interview, photos, MP3 downloads, Background — a Feast!

Broadcast, March 18, 2012; Minneapolis MPR station, KNOW, 91.1, 9-10 a.m.

Knight Arts “Mirth” Review & MPR Broadcast Times

“Of Mirth & Mischief” will air in an edited format on MPR News KNOW 91.1 on Friday, Dec 23rd at noon and on Christmas Eve, the 24 at 9pm and on The Current, 89.3 on Christmas Day at 9pm.

Click here for Great Review with Live Links

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Recently, playwright and raconteur Kevin Kling was named “artist in residence” for Minnesota Public Radio. It’s a three-year position, for which he’ll develop original live programming, write some commentary for broadcast and host storytelling workshops around the state.

His first commission for MPR is “Of Mirth and Mischief,” a staged musical-theater production, which premiered at St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater this past weekend. If you missed the live version, the show will also air a couple of times over Christmas weekend on local public radio stations (one broadcast version will be edited around Kling’s narration and the other, which will air on The Current, will showcase the production’s memorable soundtrack).

For the music in “Mirth,” Kling turned to his longtime friend Steve Kramer — an accordionist and composer best known, in these parts, for his stint with the Wallets, a well-regarded punk polka outfit from the late ‘80s. Kramer enlisted a terrific assortment of acclaimed local musicians to perform, notable among them vocalists Haley Bonar, James Diers (Halloween, Alaska), Aby Wolf and Jennifer Armour and guitarist Jacob Hanson.

The tale at the show’s center is set in the ‘60s: A 4-year-old boy is spending the holiday season in the hospital, away from his family and awaiting surgery. He copes with fear and homesickness by conjuring an imaginative wonderland for the kids in the children’s ward, re-imagining their clinical surroundings as realms filled with magic and legendary heroes, populated by elves, tricksters and fairies, kings, wise fools and wayward princesses. Kling spins yarns that are wry and heartfelt and perceptive, stories as rich and engaging as his fans have come to expect of him — he makes it all look effortless, joyful in the telling.

And Kramer has held his own with Kling’s marvelous stories; the music in the show marries with them beautifully. The songs are a catchy, varied mix — raucous, ethereal or toe-tapping swing — as the narrative demands. You can listen to these tracks now, even download them if you like; it’s worth giving them a measure of studied attention. Kramer and his fellow musicians put together an infectious set of tunes, worth listening to on their own. (I had “Nighty-Night to Brother” running through my head for hours after the show). Bonar, in particular, deserves a mention; she assumes a number of roles and pulls all of them off with aplomb, her vocals by turns seductive and poignant.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to listen to “Of Mirth and Mischief” this weekend — streaming online or in one of its broadcast iterations — it’s just delightful.

While the stage show at the Fitz has come and gone already, you can hear “Of Mirth and Mischief” broadcast this weekend on Minnesota Public Radio, on 91.1 Dec. 23 and on 89.3 The Current, Christmas Day. If you prefer, after they air, you can also stream the show online at

Star Tribune “Mirth” Article

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Strib “Mirth” Article by Graydon Royce

Deck the halls with Kling and Kramer

Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune
Updated: December 17, 2011 – 11:51 AM

Steve Kramer was a few minutes late for an interview last week at the Fitzgerald Theatre, but once he arrived, the former Wallets frontman made his presence immediately known with a nonstop monologue.

Kramer’s giddy and effusive demeanor perfectly fit the reason we were all assembled: to talk about “Mirth and Mischief.” On Friday, Kramer will be onstage playing music for the first time in 19 years. He created “Mirth and Mischief” with Kevin Kling, who quickly became Kramer’s foil as visitors gathered on the Fitzgerald stage.

“I have two comments and a question,” Kramer announced.

What’s the question?

“Is it pronounced poinsett-a or poinsett-ia? I’ve always wondered that. You know what they say about poinsett-ias. They’re the Robert Goulet of the flower world because they’re so ubiquitous at Christmas.”

Kramer then pulled a butterscotch candy from his pocket and unwrapped it.

“These things are the greatest,” he said with the profound conviction of a salesman. “They’re like an entire meal.”

He popped the candy into his mouth and darted around the stage to find something mirthful and mischievous to wear for a photo shoot.

“Kevin, do I look hot with this beard on?” Kramer asked, pulling a long ZZ Top-style wisp of stressed cotton onto his chin.

When a snowman costume was brought forth, Kramer climbed in and held up two twigs through the armholes.

“You take too many pictures,” he said as a photographer snapped away.

Then he went on random shuffle, commenting on the faux cardboard chandeliers hanging onstage, recalling a Woody Allen movie and asking if anyone knew anything about mantis shrimp.

“The thing about these butterscotches is they make you kind of sick,” he said while he and Kling posed in a box seat. “It’s a good thing I have lots of puking space inside this snowman costume.”

As he returned to the stage, Kramer expressed curiosity over the rope holding up the fire curtain.

“Do you have any matches?” he asked Kling.

Conversation interruptus

Finally, the two collaborators sat down to talk about their show.

“Oh, sorry, I’ll be right back,” Kramer said, running off to the lobby.

Kling grinned.

“This is what rehearsal has been like,” he said.

Kling and Kramer have been trying to get together on a project for many years. Kling is a big, expansive personality who tells offbeat stories with amazing heart. Kramer is a larger-than-life personality who presided over an offbeat musical group that worried more about invention than commerce. For whatever reason, they were never able to get something finished.

“We would end up laughing our heads off and nothing ever happened,” Kramer said.

This time, director Peter Rothstein brought his galvanizing presence to the party, and “Mirth and Mischief” took form.

“He’s the string holding the two kites together,” said Kling. “He’s the voice of reason.”

“When you have the two of us out there on the strong side of psychotic-A-D-D, it’s good to have him there,” added Kramer.

Back onstage

For nine years, Kramer fronted the Wallets, who were named one of the 10 best live Minnesota rock acts in a 1997 Star Tribune article. The group was, in the estimation of one critic, the most likely act to “turn any given gig into a grand, transcendent spectacle … and leader Steve Kramer’s wild-eyed sense of showmanship was off the map.”

But the band — which Kramer called “a dictatorship with a big, crabby baby at the center: me” — was tired artistically by 1989.

“It wasn’t really sustainable,” he said. “We weren’t a pop band and we lucked out with ‘Totally Nude’ but for radio airplay, there wasn’t much singing, just me grunting.”

It seems unbelievable that Kramer hasn’t performed publicly in 20 years.

“I know!” he shouted. “But I’m always onstage with my friends. Nothing has really sparked me until this show.”

Kramer did one gig a few years after the Wallets broke up, but otherwise he’s been having a grand time in the music-production business — composing commercial jingles and music for movie trailers.

“That’s helped me get to the point fast,” he said of the tunes he wrote for this show — which are available for free download at the Minnesota Public Radio site. “When Kevin showed me the stories, the songs tumbled out effortlessly.”

So is the show, “Mirth and Mischief,” about anything other than two guys having fun onstage?

“Yes,” said both men quickly.

“The subtitle is ‘The Making of a Fool,'” said Kling, “and the idea is you can survive anything with a sense of humor and a sense of self.”

For Kling and Kramer, the Fool is an important figure, a kind of shaman with wisdom that is often disregarded for being too unconventional.

“A fool has a foot in two worlds,” Kling said. “A clown has two feet in one world. You’d never take counsel from a clown, but you would from a fool.”

Fear factor

Kramer is a little scared about getting back onstage, but the chemistry he shares with Kling makes one wonder if fear will consume them, or they will consume the emotion.

“When you’re scared, you’re doing something important,” Kling said. “If it’s past, it’s regret and if it’s future, it’s anxiety, but fear is white hot in the moment.”

As the interview was winding down, Kramer was asked about the two comments.

“What?” he said.

When you first came up onstage, you said you had two comments and a question. The question was about the poinsettia. What were the comments?

“I was wondering that, too,” Kling said.

Kramer was speechless.

Kevin Kling

Kevin Kling